About Our Sponsor - Mathworks
Updated: Jun 7, 2019
Walk into the EcoCar garage at UW and you’ll be greeted by an unexpected scene. The whirs and hums of heavy machinery have been replaced by a steady stream of keyboard clicks. Conference tables full of students sit on their laptops silently, far from the greasy jumpsuit clad mechanics I expected when I started with the team. There are still cars in the garage although they have been relegated to the back corners of the space for the time being. The team won’t actually receive the physical Chevy Blazer until late summer so in the meantime all of their time is spent using MathWorks software. Mathworks’s software programs MatLab (Short for Matrix Laboratory) and Simulink (never explicitly stated but most likely short for Simulation Link) allow the engineers to use the data provided by GM and our other generous component sponsors to run complex simulations about the car and its sensors.
A big draw for student engineers to join the EcoCar team is that it involves working alongside the auto industry with the newest tools as opposed to being thrown practice problems in a classroom. That philosophy extends to the software we use. MathWorks software is an industry standard (even far beyond the auto industry) and the experience using it prepares UW’s engineers to join the workforce without missing a beat.
The Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) team uses the Automated Driving Toolbox to test the accuracy of the automated features, ensuring that they work when they’re installed later in the competition. MatLab and Simulink’s unique combination of an intuitive coding language and visual feedback tools let the engineers test things like the accuracy of the car’s object detection systems more intuitively than ever before. With these tools they can even see the car moving on the road and as a birds eye plot during the simulation. By running all the simulations in MatLab without the physical Blazer the team also manages to save a lot of money. Building a car isn’t cheap and because the team doesn’t have the resources required to run test after test at a track, MathWorks is a perfect solution. Not only does the team save money by running their tests through simulations, they also have get the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. If they had to manually test all of the sensors on the car this would either become an eight year competition or they’d be running tests through the night every night.
Despite everything MathWorks does for the CAV team it’s safe to say its biggest fans can be found in the Controls and Modeling and Simulation (CSMS) team. Much like the CAV team, CSMS uses MatLab to run simulations so things can go smoothly as soon as they receive their Blazer. The two CSMS team leads spend so much time with this software that they’ve decided to get the MathWorks logo tattooed on their arms if the team wins the coveted MathWorks Award at competition. I won’t say this is the team campaigning for an award but I personally would love to see it happen. We are so grateful to MathWorks for sponsoring the EcoCar Mobility Challenge and allowing us to take our educations beyond the classroom. For years MathWorks has been a fantastic partner in our quest to advance sustainable technology and we can’t wait to continue developing this relationship over the next four years and beyond!